Bikes. Parts. Chaos.

After spending a week in Vegasss what is one supposed to do in order to unwind from that fluorescent hell hole?  Ride their bike of course!  And if that person is an engineer for a bike company, it makes sense to test your designs somewhere that is unfamiliar/different.

It has been a long standing tradition that many of the engineers in this here building take a couple days on either end of Interbike to ride bikes in places that aren’t Minnesota.  Between MN and NV, the two most likely hotspots that fit our collective riding preferences are Fruita and Moab.  This year many people’s schedules didn’t align so that left Thor and I 3 days to ride some mountains and make it back to Minnesota.  Being the young pup I am, this was my first foray into mountain biking in the actual mountains.  Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been riding mountain bikes for a long time, and I’ve been to the mountains every winter since I can remember, I’ve just never put the two together.

When I heard we were going to road trip back home and ride Moab/Fruita I got pretty excited to ride the Instigator in the terrain that I feel it was intended for.  If you were at the outdoor demo this year you would have seen we had a few Instigators built up with tubeless 650b setups.  The design intent behind this bike was to fit our new 26+ platform, as well as be compatible with the new 650b trend that the industry can’t get enough of.  We gave riders the option to ride it either way, and I would have to say, there isn’t a clear front runner.  It just depends on what kind of riding you like to do.  For the kind of rider I am becoming, a narrower 650b tire is perfect.  For many at the demo the wider rim/tire platform was confidence inspiring on the sharp rocks of Bootleg Canyon.  6 of one, ½ dozen of another, pick your poison.  The Instigator performed very well on the whole enchilada, climbing with ease (when I wasn’t walking uphill), and descending like a rocket.  I got a few weird stares and questions about how a hardtail made it through the whole enchilada, but I just dropped the seat, pointed it down the hill, and enjoyed the ride.

I think this ride clearly demonstrated the “all mountain” capability of the Instigator.  Would a full sus cross country 29’er have climbed better, sure, but the descents would have been pretty hairy without the tight wheel base.  And a downhill bike would have negotiated some of the rock gardens better, but I would have been pushing a 40 pound bike up all of the climbs.  The 650b wheels were fast, carved the corners, and the handling was on point.  The tubeless setup was ideal for the sharp rocks and desert climate and we avoided any flats.  It doesn’t matter to me if you are on 26+ or 650b wheels, load up the car with some buddies, grab your Instigator, and go raise some hell.


We loaded up and got shuttled up to around 10,000 feet.  This is me looking stoked, not knowing we had a big ass climb at altitude to start the day.

Pushing up Burrow Pass to around 11,000+ feet, at least the scenery was amazing.

Still pushing...Thor only decided to take photos of me off the bike at this point.

Made it to the top, now the fun starts.

The descent from Burrow Pass was steep and rocky, but super fun and a good way to test the limits of the Instigator.

From there the trail flowed into a high alpine climate with tall aspens and stream crossings.  A little more climbing was required here.

Notice a theme?  Short legs, a week in Vegas, and being a flatlander are all bad for climbing in the real mountains.

After the alpine the trail dumped out into an open meadow with a fun, twisty descent, and a jeep road rocket ship ride that deposited us into the desert/slickrock

All in all, a good mix of terrain to put the Instigator through it's paces.


From Moab we headed out to Fruita's 18 road trail system.  We only had a few hours to ride, so we rode the access road up a couple times, and then did shuttle runs until it got too hot.

Going up

And going down


I couldn't have asked for a better decompression from all that is Interbike, now back to designing new stuff to test out next year.

About Slippers Cortez

Well hello there, meet Ben, aka Slippers Cortez. Ben is one of the Engineers here at Surly. When Ben isn’t doing bike math and drawings, he’s likely enjoying a beer and playing the mandolin with his brothers in their folk/bluegrass band, The Thirsty River. If you don’t know what a mandolin is, there’s a google for that. If you meet Ben, you’ll notice that he’s the most Minnesotan person you know. We mean that in the best of ways of course. So the next time you're straddling your Surly, think of Ben, because he just might be thinking about you too.

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